When I was a young boy, my brother and my sister used to eat my vegetables when my parents weren’t looking because I hated vegetables. Unfortunately, my parents found out the hard way because I had malnutrition and I had to go to the hospital for a while. My parents got mad at my siblings but they found out why I got sick. Anyway, I still didn’t like vegetables as I grew up. But what’s really weird is that when I started to grow vegetables in my own garden, I started eating vegetables. Which to me felt really weird because I always hated vegetables. Now I am eating them for two reasons: I know they’re healthy and also because I am growing them myself and their mine. Also, seeing how healthy my wife is from eating organic fruits and vegetables all her life, gives me incentive to continue gardening.
I feel better than if I would’ve kept going on with the American style that I was doing years ago. I probably would be deteriorating by now. I find the fruits, vegetables and vitamins I take help boost my health. I know there’s people my age that are way overweight, that are lazy, that are sick, that have problems. Some of my friends have a lot of problems and they are around my age. I feel fortunate. I am doing pretty good for my age.
It feels great to put seeds in the soil and see them grow. To me it’s like a miracle. I still can’t believe it every time I do this. For example, a few months ago I planted some carrot seeds in late summer and now they’re up really thick. I picked one out and they’re about 6 inches long. I’m just amazed at watching them grow, and they taste so good and they’re fresh and organic! I believe that’s keeping me a little more healthy than if I didn’t have a garden and was buying food from the stores. Some of that store food is real junky stuff. So I still eat junk but I am eating vegetables now. I grow at least fifty percent of the food for our house and maybe even more. My son and my wife enjoy it too. We all have a good time. So, I am very pleased about that.
"I grow at least fifty percent of the food for our house and maybe even more"
You know this garden area was used as a dumpsite when they were building the World’s Fair in Queens. So there’s a lot of things underneath. I just dug up a large size brick just a few days ago. Also, since this place had been farmed for several years, I am a bit concerned there might be pesticides underneath there. This reminds me of what I learned over at Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) and how important it was to have viable soil; soil that you can dig up with your hands and have it break down into little pieces, whereas in this garden you can’t even put your hand inside the soil it’s so hard.
Speaking of QBG, that’s where I got into composting. So when I was part of their community garden we started getting rats where the compost bins were. So, I took over the compost system because of the rats. We obtained these earth machines and I started putting the food scraps in there and I started telling the other gardeners to put their food scraps in there, but not food scraps from the outside. I finally put some metal chicken wire underneath the earth machine and that stopped them. So I got rid of the rats. And then it just started getting to me, I told myself, “Wow, composting is pretty cool. Breaking down food scraps and then using it.” The compost helped my vegetables and flowers grow…it’s like gold for the garden. So I got into it and now it’s part of me. I think composting is a very good form of recycling and also enriches your garden. So, it’s a win/win situation. It’s part of nature so I guess that’s why I like doing it.